There were no Sunday Schools in those days until we were about twelve years of age. Before that, the children in the district schools were called together once in three months, and catechized by questions and answers from the Bible, compiled and printed in the form of little books and given to children to learn. Also portions of scripture to commit to memory and little songs or hymns. Our mother used to learn us these things at home and when we were old enough to read, she would have us read some in the Bible every day when we did not go to school.
We always had to go not less than a mile to school, and sometimes eleven miles, three months in winter and the same length of time in summer. I was sent to school when three years old. I did not love to go to school in my childhood–never loved to study. My brother was the reverse, he loved it. When I undertook to commit anything to memory, I could do it as quick as anyone. I can look back and see the hand of the Lord which has been over me from my birth, and has preserved my life for the great work of this last dispensation.
The Destroyer was after me as soon as I was born into the world. When I was nine years old, in the winter of 1816, I was attacked with the spotted fever which prevailed at that time. Many children of my age were made deaf and dumb. The doctor that attended on me had two boys near my age who were deprived of those senses by that disease and at last, the doctor himself, was taken with the same disease and died. I went to his funeral with my parents. Through the blessing of God, by the vigilance of my mother, I was spared.
Again, when I was eleven years old the Destroyer was after me, for I was taken with “Putrid Disentery” which brought me near the point of death. My mother also became sick of the same disease and died the 30th of July, 1818. My mother, at her death, left two little girls; one, four years old, the other, three months. After nine years from the death of mother, my father married again. During that time, he hired a house-keeper but we, the children, did not receive the instruction at home that our mother used to give us. About this time (1818) Sunday-schools were set in order, and protracted meetings held, sometimes a whole week, and every exertion made, and means used to convert sinners. All denominations held them but would not unite their meetings. Each held their meetings by themselves (Baptists, Methodists, and Congregationalists) but their members would go from one to the other. We used to attend Sunday School, and repeat scriptures, hymns, and the Catechism and when I became old enough they put me to teaching a class. School held one hour only.
When sixteen years old I became a member of the choir, and played the bass viol therein until the fullness of the gospel took me away. I was frequently urged and exhorted to get religion (be converted, join the Church) but I could not see it. Their reaching had no affect on me. With all their hell-fire and brimstone, they could not frighten me. Something seemed wrong. I said to thee: If the Bible is true, why don’t you preach, teach it all alike? Why all this division in the world? Where is the faith and gifts of the gospel that were enjoyed by the ancient Saints? They could not answer me satisfactorily so I would not be converted.
When I was seventeen years old I got hurt and had a sore on my side. The Destroyer thought he had me then, and the neighbors thought I was going to die but our Father in Heaven thought differently. By His blessing my life was spared, not by the faith of anybody except that they had faith in the doctor who attended me. But the Lord blessed the means used, and I was restored, although I was not able to do anything for six months or more and I have felt the effects of it all my life.
Nothing uncommon transpires from that time until I was twenty-six years old. In the months of January and February there was a singing school in town?, and my oldest sister Emily and myself attended it. She was then eighteen years old. She took a violent cold, which settled on her lungs, also inflamation of the bowels, all which confined her in bed with a hard cough resulting in the spitting up of her lungs. The doctor that attended her did not understand her case, being a young man, and not having had much experience, she pined away and died on the 6th of June following, which was a heavy blow to me. To see her, a fair, beautiful young woman as she was, fade away and suffer as she did and die, was almost more than I could bare. I felt as though I would be willing to take her place if she could live and get well. It affected me so much that I thought I should not live long.
And people thought I was becoming converted, and getting religion. To be sure, I was trying to find out which of the religious sects was right for I wanted to obey the truth. I read the Bible and comments on it by Doddrige and others, and our minister labored with me, but I could not be satisfied. However, he urged me to join the church, and I concluded to do so accordingly, in the month of September, 1833. I was propounded for admission into the Church. This was the custom with them, the applicant giving notice of his intention to join two or three weeks before admission. In the meantime, they had to undergo an examination and if found worthy, would be admitted.
After I concluded to join the church, and was propounded, I felt more miserable than ever. I could not sleep of nights, and there was a great burden upon me which seemed to me more than I could bear, and I prayed the Lord to release me from it and show me the right way. Sometime before this, I think, I dreamed that some new preachers came with a book containing new doctrine, and which threw new light on the Bible, and their preaching was different from that of all others and that I rejoiced in it. But when I awoke the dream somewhat left me, and I thought no more about it. The next sabbath after I was propounded, I went to meeting again and it being quite early, I went into a store kept by two youg men and they told me that two young men, preachers, had come to town, had put up at the tavern, and would preach in the hall that evening; that they had a new book, a record, which had been found, and was an addition to the Bible. Well, I said, I am glad of it, I hope they have got the truth. I can’t see the propriety of so much division in the world about religion. I shall go and hear them.
After the close of the afternoon meeting, I walked home two miles, this distance we lived from town, did my chores and hurried back. This was near the last of September. The meeting commenced at early candle light, and the hall was filled. They opened by prayer, but I believe there was no singing for the young preachers were not singers. They were mere boys; one 18, the other 19 years old. One of them arose, took the Bible and read a little I think from the 11th chapter of Isaiah, then commenced his discourse. He treated upon the dealings of God with the children of men from Adam, down to the present day, and of the downfall of Israel, and of their restoration, and of the renewal of the covenant in these last days. And such a flood of scripture was quoted, chapter and verse without reading it or looking in the book, that everybody marveled. I rejoiced exceedingly, and they all saw that I was interested, and so I was. The spirit of God was upon me, and I went home prophesying.
The next morning they came to my father’s house. I was in the field digging potatoes. My sister came out and called me, and I left my work and went to the house. I was glad to meet them, and invited them to take a walk with me about a mile to a man who was a Methodist. He was well-educated, and strong in argument on theological questions. I thought if there was a man in the world that could whip them out, he could do it.
This Mr. Harris was tending his mill. I introduced them and Mr. Harris took the Mormon book, looked it over a moment, asked some questions about it which they answered; also in regard to the ordinances of the gospel, particularly baptism, which they also answered. He then stopped his mill and invited us into the house. After we were seated, he conversed awhile with the , but entered into no argument with them, at which I marveled. And I said to him sometime afterward,”I brought those men to you for you to whip them out in argument.” He said,”They have the truth, and I can’t do it, neither can anyone.” “Well,” I said,”I did not believe you could, but I wanted them tested.” I knew it, their preaching was true, and I rejoiced exceedingly.
We had another meeting that evening and everybody, nearly, took notes, and seemed much interested. I thought surely the people will receive this, but the ministers set up against them, and called them false teachers. They labored with me, and urged me to keep away from them and let them go; that if they stayed, some persons would be deceived and led astray by them. Well, said I, if they teach the truth I am in duty bound to receive it, and which is the duty of everyone. But, I said to the minister, if you will go and hear them and show to the people that they are false teachers, and prove them to be imposters (and you ought to be able to do it) then I will leave them. So I prevailed on him to go and hear the again. And after the elders had finished their discourses, they gave liberty to anybody to speak that wished to. Then the minister, Mr. Cligget, arose and said: “These men are false teachers,” and left the house, and the people followed him. I saw him a few days after that, and said to him, Why didn’t you show us how and wherein those men were false teachers? Do you think we are going to take your word for it without proof? Fact is, they teach the truth and you know it.
Those elders stayed about there for two months, and I supposed a good many people would obey the gospel. But how disappointed I was when I found that only one young man besides myself, and four females, received their teachings. The cross was very heavy on me and I was about to let the elders go away without obeying the gospel, but the Spirit said to me, Perhaps you will not have another opportunity. Likewise I had two sores on me; one was a burn, and the Spirit said, those sores will never get well if you do not obey the gospel. The sores had been on me a long time, and I could not heal them with anything I could put on them and they grew larger all the time, although quite small at first.
These reflections were so heavy upon my mind that I was weighed down with sorrow. I went to the next meeting without taking any clothing for baptism, which was on Monday, the 2nd day of December, 1833. A few persons were to be baptized in the forenoon and then the elders were going to leave the place, and I was going to take them on their way for ten miles in a sleigh as there was plenty of snow on the ground. Well, I went to the baptizing but did not expect to be baptized but when the elders saw my sad feelings they urged me to obey the ordinance of baptism, and even some persons who did not intend to be baptized themselves advised me to be, and one person offered to lend me clothing so I accepted the offer and was baptized and confirmed. After that, the burden left my mind and I felt free and light as air and my sores were soon healed. The other man who was baptized at the same time, whose name was David Nelson, the elders ordained a priest. He had been a baptist by profession and a member of that Church. We held our little meetings (only six? of us) every sabbath, but the neighbors would also come in to hear us. The Lord blessed us, and we had good times.
Soon after this Brother Nelson had to leave the place to get employment and he ordained me a teacher so we kept up our meetings as well as we could, but prejudice soon manifested itself in the public mind, and I had someone to contend with in argument every day, so I carried a Bible in my pocket all the time wherever I went to work to argue from. I used to attend the evening meetings of the various sects where they gave all or anyone a privilege of speaking, and used to improve the opportunity, and give them a little lecture on the work of the Lord. It used to vex them some, and they used say they would like hear me talk if I would not always preach up Mormonism.
The next summer following, Elder Harlow Bedfield came to our town and preached and a few more persons were converted, and added to our branch. Also Elder Isaac Morley and Bishop Edward Partridge visited us, and we had a time of rejoicing. The following October I went to Canada to get married.
On my way I passed through Montpelier, the capitol of Vermont. It happened to be a great day with the people there, because of a new stakehouse just completed. The people all about the country had gathered there. I passed along in the city about a mile, and put up at a public house. Soon there came in quite a large company to stay over night, and one man I noticed was a little intoxicated with strong liquor and could not speak without profaning with an oath. He would blaspheme at almost every breath, and the whole company noticed it and some of them asked him if he could live one hour without swearing? He guessed he could, so they bet with him that if he could, they would treat; if he did not, he should treat.
I sat, and heard but said nothing, but resolved to watch with him, and keep him from swearing if possible, but got off my guard and missed. There!, said they, we knew you couldn’t. Well, he said, we will try it again. I said to myself you shall not fail this time, and he did not. I had to occupy the same bed with that fellow that night, and when we went to bed I said to him that I had not heard so much profane language from one man before in my life; that it was not only wicked, but a disgrace to anyone to use it. Nothing more was said. In the morning, while we were all sitting around the fire, a man with two boys, bright looking lads, twelve and fourteens years of age I should think, sat smoking, and talking and swearing most wickedly. I said to him, Mister what kind of an example are you setting for your boys? Two bright looking lads, for shame! It is vile blasphemy and bestiality.(?)
He sat smoking, hung his head, and said nothing. And some of the company confirmed what I said, and I think he felt ashamed. I write this to show what power the Spirit has.
I had been to Canada two years before this, and my affianced and myself had agreed to unite our destinies for this life. We did not know anything about marriage for eternity then. We were married on the 25th of October, 1834, by an Episcopalian minister, the Reverend Mr. Cotton. Some of my wife’s friends were opposed to our marriage because I had become a Mormon; however, I had no trouble about that, for she was willing, as also her father. Immediately after our marriage, we returned to Massachusetts. And shortly after, in December I think, there came an elder, an old gentleman by the name of King who had been a Methodist preacher but had obeyed the gospel. He gave us some good instructions. Shortly after he left, Elder Samuel Bent came. He was formerly a resident of our town (Wendell); I knew him when a small boy. He came in January, 1835 and baptized my wife so we were then united in the faith and during the season following, some more additions to our branch were made by baptism.
During the same winter when I was baptized (that of 1833, 1834) all sorts reports were put in circulation concerning “Joe Smith.” I answered his letters, and told him to keep his stories at home and come with his Bible like an honest man if he believed in it, but he never came. They got a letter from a Presbyterian minister in Palmyra, New York, signed by his deacons, which they had printed in the county paper, which was a perfect piece of abuse and slander. The minister took it and went about town reading it to the people.
He came to my father’s house with one of his deacons in company with him, and handed me the paper that I might read the printed letter and went into another room to converse with my father. I read the letter, and then went into the other room and gave him back the paper. He asked me if I was willing that he should read the letter there? I said, I am not the master of the house, and could say nothing about that. But he read the letter, and then asked me what I thought of it. I said, It is a piece of slander and abuse of a man they know nothing about, only what they hear of him in the shape of vague reports and rumors. It is a piece of defamation, and as you are set to be a spiritual leader and teacher of the people here, I advise you to go home and mind your own business, and teach the people to live godlike lives and let others alone.
They soon left, and went to our neighbor’s who lived a short distance away from us and back a little distance from the road, and after they came back from the house to the road where their horse and sleigh were standing, and while shutting the gate before getting into the sleigh, the horse started and ran about a mile, breaking their sleigh harness quite badly. This put an end to their mission of slander.
In 1835, month of September I think, my wife proposed that we fix up and go to Canada and visit her relations, friends, and afterwards go to Kirtland, Ohio where the Prophet and Saints were gathered. It seemed like a great undertaking, and I was afraid we would not be able to accomplish the journey before winter, but I said we will try. I told my father we were going to leave and go to Ohio. He felt bad, and said he would build an addition on the house for us if we would stay but I said no, we want to go to the Church, and told him I thought David, my brother would come, and live with him (he, brother David was then living in Canada where we were going to visit) and that I would request him to do so.
I then went to work to fix up a wagon to travel with. I had a one-horse wagon and a horse, but the wagon needed some alterations, such as a larger box and a cover on it, c.? all of which I soon accomplished. We then made a few visits among relatives, friends, and told them of the words of the Lord concerning His great latter- day work, but they did not feel interested in them and advised us not to go after those “Mormons” but we could not be turned. So on the 2nd day of November, 1835 being all ready, we bid adieu to my father, step-mother and only sister, and started upon our journey with the blessing of the Lord. My father wept at our parting, and I felt sorrowful, but our hearts’ desires and thoughts were for Zion. All our effects, a bed, a little clothing, and a few carpenter tools I had made myself or picked up about the neighborhood, all were packed into our little wagon with one horse to pull it.
We traveled over the Green Mountains of Vermont to the ? of Shaftsbury where we left our luggage at a tavern, and went on our journey to Canada. We bid, adieu to my wife’s father, mother, and friends. And my brother who was living there I requested to go and live with father (which he did do), then returned to the place where we left our luggage, loaded it in the wagon, and proceeded on our journey towards Kirtland. We had very good weather and good traveling until after we crossed the Hudson River. At Waterford, state of New York, snow came and from that on we traveled in snow. We passed into the town of Fredonia, and stopped with Dr. Cowdery one day, and then traveled on. There was so much snow on the ground that it was very hard traveling for our horse, so I hired a man who was going the same road with us with a sleigh and two horses to take us along the road for two days. So he set our wagon on his sleigh, and hitched our horse behind, and we then traveled much faster and easier than before until we arrived in Ripley, Chautauqua County, New York where Addison Pratt and family lived.
We thought we had been blessed and prospered by the Lord thus far on our journey, and very truly we had been; the Lord was with us by His Holy Spirit for we continually had good courage and perseverance. Some people where we stayed, we put up at private houses mostly in our journey along the road, said they thought we were the very happy couple, and had great courage to be traveling that time of year.
Soon after our arrival at Brother and Sister Pratt’s, I left my wife there with her sister and took our horse and rode to Kirtland to look out a dwelling place. When I arrived in town it was nearly dark. I put up my horse at the tavern, which was kept by a Brother Johnson, father of Luke and Lyman Johnson. Then I determined to go and see the prophet of God first of all, as it was my strongest desire. I was told where he lived, and went there, rapped on the door, and the prophet himself opened it, and bid me come in and be seated. He then asked me a few questions concerning my nativity, and of my coming into the Church, and made me welcome.
He had the company of several persons that evening beside myself. There were his brother Hyrum, Reynolds Cahoon, Martin Harris, John Carle (the architect of the Temple), George A. Smith, and perhaps others. We had a very pleasant time. He treated his company with cider and pepper?, and had supper served up. I thought he was a queer man for a prophet of God. He did not appear as I expected him to, however I was not stumbled at all. I found him to be a friendly, cheerful agreeable man, I could not help liking him. I stopped overnight, and took breakfast there in the morning. He showed me the records of the mummies and explained them to me. He could read them, they written in language of the Book of Mormon on the plates, and were very interesting.
I paid for the entertaiment, and then walked about town and went to the [Kirtland] temple; it was not finished. This was Christmas Day and I was invited to a feast. Patriarch Smith, the father of the Prophet was there giving blessings, and told me when I got moved there with my wife he would give us blessings. After two or three days spent very agreeably, I returned (having found a chance to live with Brother Parley P. Pratt) to Ripley to Brother Pratt’s place, and found my wife had been unwell, had met with a loss, but was then better. So we fixed up, and went on to Kirtland, arrived there on the twelfth day of January, 1836 and went to living with Brother Parley P. Pratt and family. I then worked on the temple to pay for our board, and continued working there till the temple was dedicated. I was only a teacher when we arrived in Kirtland, but soon after, they ordained me an elder, and again soon after that I was put into the Second Quorum of Seventies.
We had very interesting meetings that winter in Kirtland. There was the dedication of [Kirtland] temple, and the Solemn Assembly about the last of March, and the Conference on the 6th of April. After that, by request of the prophet, I attended the Hebrew School. He himself attended it and many others. This was in the summer of 1836. This was also the time when the prophet proposed to the Saints to unite with their means, and start a banking system [Kirtland Safety Society], and advised all to take shares or stock in it, and a great many did so. I did not, for I had no money, but I took the bills in payment for my work. The enemy soon became very busy gathering up the bills and drawing on the bank for specie? in order to break it, which caused a great deal of trouble to the stock-holders. Money was very scarce that year, and flour was ten dollars per barrel, and all other provisions accordingly. At this time there began to be some dissatisfaction in the Church, bitter feelings arose in the minds of some people against the prophet, and they began to find fault with him.
I traded off my horse and wagon in the spring, after the dedication of the temple, and got a city lot. I put up the frame of a small house, got it enclosed but never finished, and a little while before the month of December came in we moved into it. It was a cold place to live in through the winter. There was only a loose floor, and nothing but the roof overhead. On the 14th of the month our son Alma was born. Being in an unfinished house my wife took cold, and was sick with a sore breast nearly all winter, she could not nurse the boy, so we had to beg milk of the neighbors and let him suck the bottle, yet he kept quite well all the time and the neighbors were all very kind. While my wife was sick, Father Joseph Smith came, and administered to her, and named and blessed the baby.
There are some circumstances which I have omitted to mention in their proper place. Shortly after our arrival in Kirtland, brothers Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Parley P. Pratt, came to me to borrow money. I was in possession of nearly one hundred dollars at the time, and they were very destitute of provisions and comforts of life generally. Brother Young said he had nothing in his house to eat, and he knew not how to get anything. He said he had been standing in the door of the printing office thinking of his condition and felt so bad that the sweat rolled off of him. Soon Brother Parley came along, and he said to him, “What shall we do I have nothing to eat, and I don’t know how nor where to get it.” Brother Pratt said, “There is a brother and his wife who have just arrived at my house, and he has got some money, and I think he will lend us some.” (I had lent Brother Pratt seven dollars before this). So they all three came, and I lent them seventy five dollars; twenty-five for each, and they gave me their joint note. (This was in January 1836). President Brigham Young has related this circumstance many times, but I never heard the others mention it.
I have said that the Kirtland bank was started in the spring and summer of 1836, but I mistaken; the First Presidency of the Church issued a scrip circular which answered a very good purpose and passed off very well that season, but the next spring and summer, 1837, the bank was started. And soon after this great dissatisfaction apostasy took place, the account of which will be found in Church history. In the spring of 1837, I went to work on a house for the Prophet Joseph. There were several workmen engaged on the building, and we took Kirtland money in payment. But it passed in trade only for a short time, and then “hard times” came on, provisions became high, and the Kirtland money would not buy them. So the workmen all left the house, except myself, and went off into the country to find employment. But I stayed by, and kept to work on the house until everything was gone, and we had nothing to eat. I was then compelled to stop work and spent a day running about town trying to buy some food with Kirtland money, but could get nothing for it and I went home sorrowful, sat down with my wife, and the question was, now what shall we do? But soon the thought occurred to me, and I said, “Well, in the morning I will go and tell Sister Emma (the Prophet Joseph was gone from home) how it is with us,” and we won’t starve in one night.
Just then Brothers Joseph Young and William Cahoon came in, and learning our destitution, offered to lend us some flour and potatoes for supper and breakfast next morning, which were very thankfully received. The next morning I went back to work with a determination to tell Sister Emma, concerning our situation, and see whether she could let us have some provisions. Well, I went to work, and did not go in to see her, but in a little while, she came in where I was at work, and brought a nice ham of bacon, and said, “I don’t know how you are off for provisions, but you have stopped and worked while the others are all gone, so I thought I would make you a present of a ham of bacon.” I thanked her very much, and then told her of our destitute situation. She said: “I’ll?, I will let you have some flour.” So she gave me some 40 pounds of flour. Then, at night, a company of five or six brethren with myself went down the Chagrin River two or three miles fishing and were gone all night. We caught a fine lot of fish so we lived well again. And seven kept to work on the prophet’s house until it was finished.
On the 3rd day of January, 1838, I left Kirtland in company with Brother Warren Smith (who was killed in the Haun’s Mill massacre, Missouri) on a mission to preach the gospel. We were not particularly called and appointed to take a mission, but we volunteered to go. We traveled south to Wellsville on the Ohio River; we did not hold very many public meetings but we preached privately in families, going from house to house.
We crossed the Ohio River into Virginia in Brooks County, and held several meetings, one in particular at a Mr. Josiah Burke’s on a Saturday evening. A Campbellite preacher was present and also some Presbyterians. At the close of our services we gave liberty for anyone to speak that wishes to, but not much was said, so we dismissed. After the dismissal, the Campbellite talked some with us, and a Presbyterian man, becoming excited, said we ought to be tarred and feathered, and rode on a rail. I said to him, “I suppose you would like to do it.” “Yes,” he said, and struck me on the forehead with his fist. It did not hurt me much, but raised a little lump. This man’s name was Robert McCloud. Mr. Burke was not present at the time of the striking, had he been he would have knocked the fellow down, but McCloud’s sister was present and she flew at him in rage, and kicked him out of the house. This woman was living at the time with Mr. Burke in adultery, in a separate house on his farm, and had several children by him. Burke was practically a polygamist, but neither he nor the woman were religionists.
We held another meeting next morning Sunday. Only a few came, yet we had a good time and no abuse. When we left Mr. Burke’s place he gave us some money. From there we went about two miles to Mr. Thomas Willcox’s place; a rich farmer, a man of no religion. We preached and sung to them half the night, and they treated us very kindly. From there we went on into Pennsylvania, passed through Pittsburgh and held a few meetings but our preaching was mostly fireside talking and were generally very well treated until we arrived home. We had been gone from home about two months. When we reached home [Kirtland] we found the printing office and Methodist meeting house had been destroyed by fire and the Prophet Joseph, his father, brothers, and all their families were gone, and also many others went off in the night because of the threatenings of mobs who tried to burn the [Kirtland] temple but did not succeed.
Shortly after my arrival home from that short mission, I received a letter from Sister Pratt inviting me to visit them and wondering why I did not visit them if Mormonism was true, and try and give them an understanding of it. Accordingly, I started off in the month of March begging my way for about one hundred miles to Ripley, Chautauqua County, New York where they lived. When I arrived there it was at the close of a protracted meeting, and they were filled with the spirit of it and were not very glad to see me and did not want to hear me preach, and contended hard against me. And I think, had it not been for the invitation they sent me to come and visit them, they would have invited me to go home again. I stayed a whole week before they would consent to get a meeting for me to preach, contending with me all the time, but finally concluded “? get up a meeting for me in the school house, and the people turned out, and filled the house, and we had a good time. After that they contended against me no more. I held one or two more meetings, and Sister Pratt agreed to come to Kirtland, and make us a visit. Then I left them, and begged my way home again.
In the month of April, Sister Pratt came and visited us, stayed about a week, visited Martin Harris and some others, went to meeting, and became pretty well confirmed in the truths of this latter-day gospel and returned home with a favorable report. After this, in the month of May, 3rd, Pratt came, and stayed a few days and was baptized. And when he was ready to start for home, he invited us to come and visit them again. And suggested that I go with brother-in-law Horace Barnes to Canada where my wife’s and Sister Pratt’s family relatives lived. Accordingly, in the latter part of June we fixed up and got a team to take us to the landing on the coast of Lake Erie (Fairport) where we got aboard of the steamer New Erie, and landed at Erie Pennsylvania, where we found my wife’s brother Horace Barnes with a team ready to take us home. We arrived at their place of residence in the evening, only one day from Kirtland, after a very pleasant trip.
A few days after our arrival, I baptized Sister Pratt and her brother Horace Barnes, and soon after that, we started for Canada. We traveled on foot to Buffalo, got on board a steamer, and ran to the Niagara Falls. We took a good look at them, and went on our way to Rochester a few miles below, on the coast of Lake Ontario, where we got on board the Steamer Fulton, and sailed for Ogdensburg. On the passage the steamer stopped at Sackets Harbor where we saw an old ship, a relic of the war of 1812, which was laying in the harbor. We visited an old fort, another relic of that war, where we saw many interesting things. The steamer, also stopped at Kingston a short time, and on the passage we sailed along through the “Hundred Islands,” a great curiosity in Lake Ontario, and landed at Ogdensburg in the night. From there we traveled on foot to Moira in Franklin County, New York, where Mr. LocMood lived, (he married my wife’s sister Dolly Barnes). We stayed there a week or more, and I preached in their meetinghouse several times to good congregations. Mr Lockwood and family, were so full of Methodism, however, that they were unable to see, and appreciate the true Gospel light that had come into the world.
We soon left there, and went on our way to Canada, crossing Lake Champlain, to “Caldwell Manor,” and then on to Dunham, where our friends lived. We found them all well, except my wife’s youngest sister, Catherine, who was very sick, wasting away with consumption. I labored with them, and tried to influence her, as also her father and mother, to get faith that she might be healed, but her parents were old and all her relatives and friends were so full of sectarian tradition that we could make but little impression upon them. We wanted them to sell their property, and go with us to the Church, but their parents thought they were too old to undertake the like of that. They were very glad to see us, and Catherine, although so sick, was overjoyed to see us; her brother, Horace, they had not seen for a good many years. It seemed to put new life into Catherine and we thought she might get well, but after we left, she failed very fast and soon passed away.
We held several meetings in Dunham, but could not get the people interested enough in the gospel we preached to investigate it. When we left Canada we passed through Vermont into the state of Massachusetts to my old home. My father and stepmother were still living, and my brother David and family were living with them. My brother and all his family had been baptised, and I baptised my Sister Lois. We stayed there, I think, about two weeks, and when we got ready to start for home, my father gave me a horse and wagon to travel home with. We started in the latter part of August, and arrived at brother Addison Pratt’s in Ripley, New York in September. Then we all took hold, and gathered the crops that Brother Pratt had raised, and made sales and disposed of them. And Brother Pratt sold his farm, and I fixed up the wagons, and we started in November for some place in the west, not knowing where, for the Church were then leaving Missouri, and had not located.
We arrived in the state of Indiana in January in the little town of Pleasant Garden and still not knowing where the Church would locate and being a little weary from traveling, we concluded it best to stop awhile in that town. So Brother Pratt bought some land about two miles from town, and made a farm, while I with my little family stopped in town, And finding a young man from New York named Ross R. Rogers, who was a cabinet maker by trade, and a Latter-Day Saint, he and I concluded to go into the cabinet making business. We succeeded and prospered very well in our undertaking.
In the spring and summer following, (1839) many elders passed through our town on missions to different parts. In the fall, Almon W. Babbitt came there, and stayed two or three months and preached, and built up a little branch of the Church and appointed me to preside over it. I did so according to the best of my abilities. About the last of November the Prophet Joseph Smith, Dr. Foster, and Elias Higbee came there, being on their way to Washington City, to lay the case of the persecution of the Saints in Missouri before Congress; and when they returned home they called on us again. (The account of this mission is in the history of the church). We continued to reside in this town of Pleasant Garden, State of Indiana, about three years and a half, or till the latter part of June 1842, when we prepared for another journey, and we started and traveled to Nauvoo. There, I bought a house and lot of Brother Ben Wilber. And after getting comfortably fixed for living, I went to work for the firm of McArthur? and Abbott.
In the month of October following, of the year 1842, I volunteered to go on a mission through the northern states into Canada. Traveled with Brother Clark as far Kirtland. There we separated, he going into Pennsylvania, and I traveled on through the state of New York into Canada. As I passed on to the east, through Ashtabula County, I found Brother John Riggs, who was preaching about there. And he decided to go with me, so we started on traveling together about the last of December begging our way as preachers of the gospel, “without purse or scrip.” We passed on through the country calling from house to house, in fireside preaching, only occasionaly holding a public meeting.
We found a few bretheren scattered through the country, until we arrived in Rochester where we found Ezra Thayer, who had been almost one of the first members of the Church (spoken of in the revelations of Joseph.) He treated us well, but was dead spiritually. From there we passed on to Auburn where we visited the Penitentiary. We were shown through all the workshops, dining and cook rooms and cells. Everything was explained to us, and were treated very respectfuly. Thence we traveled Utica, and found some of Brother Riggs’ relatives. On the way we held several meetings. We found a small branch of the Church in Utica. We stayed there about a week, held a conference, and had a happy and agreeable time, and were greatly blessed of the Lord.
From Utica we crossed the river and passed through country, warning the people on the way, came to the Hudson River some distance above Saritoga, and then traveled north until we came to Scaroon Lake. In the town I found my Aunt Dresser, my father’s sister, and some cousins. We labored there about two weeks, and were treated kindly, but they did not receive our testimony. From there we continued on our course north, and northwest to the town of Malone, Franklin Co. N. Y., thence to Moira, five miles, where my wife’s sister lived at Mr. Walter Lockwood’s. We held several meetings in the latter town but the people were full of Millerism, and didn’t want Mormonism. The Millerites in these two towns were preaching at that time, that the coming of Christ would be in about one month from that tine, (this was the month of Feb. 1843).
From Moira, we went to the next town where we found a few professed Saints. We put up at a Mr. Bullock’s. The lady of the house was quite zealous in this Latter-Day work. We stayed about there nearly six weeks, preaching in various places, and baptised a couple. Here Brother Riggs found himself a wife, the daughter of Sister Bullock, and I left him and went on my way to Canada (this was toward the last of April) crossed Lake Champlain at the northeast corner of the state, to what was called “Caldwell `s Manor” in Canada, and then proceeded on to Dunham, where my wife’s family relatives and old-time friends lived. I preached here several times, after which went on through the state of Vermont into Massachusetts, to the town of Wendell, my birthplace. (It was now June 1843, I think). I found my brother David at home here, and was engaged settling up the estate of our father who had died four years before (May 12th, 1839).
I stayed and preached in Wendell and thereabouts, also in New Salem, Athol, Warwick, Winchester and in the state of New Hampshire, until the month of October at which time I had baptised four persons. My brother had then got his business settled and was ready to go with me to the Church. So we started, and went to Springfield in Massachusetts, thence by railcars to Albany, New York, thence by canal to Buffalo, thence across the lake to Cleveland, Ohio, thence on the Ohio Canal to the Ohio River.
While sailing down the Ohio River by steamboat, I was taken sick with the smallpox, think I was first taken at the town of Worcester, Ohio; yet, notwithstanding my sickness, I continued my journey up the Mississipi River by steamboat to Warsaw Illinois. There we hired a team to take us to Nauvoo. When I got home, I found all well but myself. I was sick with the smallpox, and confined at the house, and not allowed to go out about town nearly all winter. In the spring, (1844) as soon as I was able, I went to work on the [Nauvoo] temple, and continued to work on it the greater portion of the time, until several of the rooms were finished sufficiently so that they gave endowments. There, my wife and I received all the ordinances of the Holy Endowments that could be given, or that is given in the temple now. In the organization of the quorums of seventies I was appointed one of the presidents of the twelfth quorum, which position I still hold.
In February 1846, the church began to leave Nauvoo and move westward; a large company at this time crossed the river, and moved on to Garden Grove, Pisgah, in the state of Iowa. We were compelled to stay in Nauvoo till after the mobocratic army entered, and ransacked the city. Being all sick, we were unable to get away sooner, and being also in poverty, I was totaly unable to make any preparations for leaving. And nights, while lying abed tormented by mosquitoes, fleas and bedbugs in terrible numbers, we could hear the roar of cannon and guns, in the battles that were waged between our people and the army of the mob. But our people were compelled to give way, and the mobocratic army in overwhelming numbers soon entered the city, and traveled about, and through it in little squads demanding the firearms of the brethren. One of them, an old Missouri mobber came into our house, leveled his gun at me and demanded my arms. I had only a pistol, which I gave him, and he left. Shortly after, two or three others came in, talked quite friendly, said we should not be hurt and that we might stay as long as we pleased.
Soon after all this, and notwithstanding I was sick, I succeeded in getting a wagon fixed up, loaded our things into it, and got one of the brethren with his oxen, to haul our load down to the river where we lay two or three days waiting to be ferried over. At length we were taken over to the west side, where we stayed a week or more camped by a large slue. Here, quails were very plentiful. I had a gun which I took in the trade when I sold our house and lot in Nauvoo, so I was able to shoot some of the quails to cook, which was a great treat and help to us in our destitution.
In the time of the war between our people and the mob at Nauvoo, for a long time we had scarcely anything at all to eat, and were all sick with ague. I was just able to walk about so I went to Brother Joseph L. Haywood who, with Almon Babbitt, had been appointed agents by the twelve apostles to attend to public business in Nauvoo after they and the chief body of the Church were gone, and I told Brother Haywood? of our destitute condition, and he in great kindness provided us some food for which I was very thankful. While we were camped by the big slue, I killed a great many quails, others did likewise. It is said the quails had been so plentiful that the companies that preceeded us were able to pick them up alive, but I saw no such chance; indeed it was always difficult for me to get near enough to shoot them.
I have not written anything yet concerning the massacre of the Prophet and Patriarch. This can be read in Brother D. Tyler’s History of the Battalion, as written by President John Taylor. We were among the mourners, and saw their bodies when brought home to Nauvoo. The last words I ever heard him speak were, “The Lord bless you if you never see me again.” He looked sorrowful and heartbroken, as he started off a prisoner to Carthage. After being camped a week or more by the “Big Slue,” I borrowed a yoke of oxen, and moved up to “Jackoak Grove.” Here, we camped another week in company with several others, and then I got a brother to take his team, and haul us over to “Sugar Creek” a few miles further. Here President Brigham Young and Company camped in the winter leaving Nauvoo.
Shortly after arriving at Sugar Creek, a man came to us (he was a Gentile) and, learning our situation, said he wanted some work done on his house and if I would do his carpenter work for him, he would come next day with a team and haul us home to his house, to which I agreed, and accordingly the next day he came with his team and took home with him. (This man’s name I quite forget) and notwithstanding I was quite unwell, being more or less afflicted with chills and fever, having a chill every other day, I went to work for this man yet frequently compelled to rest from my labors because of poor health. We stayed here several weeks, and were treated very kindly but the ague hung on us, and as winter was coming on this man became afraid we would be a burden on him so he proposed to haul us up to Bonaparte, five or six miles further on, and we were quite willing to go.
In Bonaparte we found brother Melvin Wilbur and family. With them we stayed a week or more. We had two cows that we brought with us from Nauvoo, only one of which gave milk, and the other being quite fat, I killed her and sold some of the beef for bread-stuff so we became pretty well supplied with eatables. This was in November 1846, and soon we moved up to Benton’s port on the Des Moines River and stopped a short time at a house occupied by Brother Cheney Moore. The latter, a mechanic, worked in one room of the house, and I went to work with Brother Moore while making bedsteads. Some time afterward I got a chance to work on a new house in course of building, making sash and doors at a very low rate of wages but we managed to live pretty well; provisions were very cheap, and I succeeded in getting a plenty. And besides, by my work, I earned two yoke of oxen, got fitted out with provisions, and in the spring of 1848 we started, moving on westward to Kanesville, or somewhere else, didn’t know where.
During our first day’s travel we came to a bad slue crossing in the road, and we got stuck fast so that we were compelled to unload in order to get out, but even then our team was not able to pull the empty wagon out. But just then, a large, fine yoke of oxen came along the road behind us overtaking us, unattended by any person, and which we considered very providential aid. So I hitched them on the wagon with my own team, and pulled out easily. I then turned the strange oxen loose again, loaded in the things we had taken out, and traveled on. We looked upon that aid and help as being directly from our Heavenly Father. After that, we got stuck in bad places several times, and had to unload in order to pull out but only a few days passed, and Brother Ezra Clark with a small company overtook us, and then we had no more trouble. When we came to bad places, we were in duty bound to help each other.
After a few days we arrived at “Chicken Creek” where we found some brethren, among them were Joseph and Phineas Young. We camped there a few days, and had a very pleasant time with the brethren. And when we went on, we crossed over a mountain, and soon arrived at Kanesville. Here we found Apostle Orson Hyde presiding. He told us if we had provisions enough, we had better go on to “Winter Quarters” and be ready to travel on to Salt Lake Valley as Brother Amasa Lyman was there, organizing a company to start for the mountains. We had heard this before, and I was anxious to go. I exchanged my yoke of small steers at “Chicken Creek” for a larger yoke of oxen, so that I then had a very good team.
It was toward the last of June 1848 when we left Winter Quarters, and went over to the “Elk Horn Creek,” and camped a day or two, to get a little better organized. Brother Ezra Clark, was made captain of the ten that we were in, and I think there were about forty wagons in our company. Thence, we moved on to the “Loop Fork,” where we camped a day or two; and in the meantime Brother Willard Richards’ company overtook and camped by us (we had passed them since starting.) We forded the Platt River passing in at the mouth of the Loop Fork, and passed on to the South side of the Platt, went on about a mile and camped. Next day we took our teams and went back and helped Brother Richards’ company over the river; we had to double team with them in crossing. From that time on to Salt Lake Valley, not much of great consequence transpired, except that Brother Sydney Ranner lost a little boy by death, being killed by falling from a wagon which ran over him. The company also lost several oxen. We had no trouble with the Indians, had to donate to them a little; we also traded with them some, bought buffalo robes and moccasins.
We arrived in Salt Lake Valley all well, on the 12th, October 1848. We hired a small adobe house, one room only, to live in and I rented another one for a shop close by, and went to work making tables and bedsteads. Provisions were scarce during the following winter and spring. But in June 1849, hundreds of travelers from the states came along on their way to the California gold diggings, and they brought provisions of all kinds, and store goods also, and sold them very cheap, much less than first cost. Many threw away their provisions and goods on the plains and left their wagons, and when they got to Salt Lake, they sold everything they could spare, and pack sadles for their animals. I made a good many saddles and got money, provisions and goods for them. I sold my oxen for lumber to work up into furniture. I built a small house on the side of the hill or bench, east of President Brigham Young’s habitation, on what is called South Temple Street.
We lived there through the winter of 1849 and 1850. At the April Conference of 1850, I was appointed with a few others to take my family, and go on a mission to the South Pacific Islands. Accordingly, I went to work to get things in readiness to start with the company. A few of the members of the company were bound for the gold mines. There were about ten of the company who were missionaries. We had a very good journey to California. Before we started President Brigham Young bought our house, and almost everything we had to sell, gave us a team and some money. We had the same wagon that we came to the valley with, which we started on this journey with.
We started on the 7th of May 1850, arrived at Farmington the first day, and camped over night. Here brother Thomas Tompkins lived and who was appointed to the same mission. He had Brother Addison Pratt’s family in charge helping them on the journey. Brother Pratt was already on the islands, having gone there the autumn before. Nothing of much interest transpired on the way to California, we had a very pleasant journey. We camped on the top of the Sierra Nevada Mountains after passing over snow said to be forty feet deep on the 4th of July. Ice froze that night half an inch thick. Next day, before 12 o’clock, we got to where there was no snow and did not freeze at all. A few days after this we arrived in Pleasant Valley, and near to some old Gold diggings, and the several persons of the company decided to go out, and try their luck in getting a little gold, myself with them; others stayed to guard and keep camp.
We went about a mile, and altogether we obtained about twenty dollars, so we made a feast and had a little jubilee. We then went on to where Porter Rockwell and another man in California? were keeping a liquor shop. We camped a day and sold our teams and wagons to Porter Rockwell (those of us who were going to the islands) but we had the use of them to take us to Sacramento, and Porter sent a man along with us to take the teams back. Here we found a Brother Levi Dougherty and family with whom we stopped a day or two until we could get a passage to San Fransisco. We found a vessel (the William O’Alden a bark from the state of Maine); the Captain charged nothing for our passage, only he wished us to help him to take in balast and wood for his return trip home to Maine. The terms we cheerfully agreed to and got our things aboard. I bought a chest of tools on board this ship, which were all new, for less than what they cost in the state of Maine. These tools were much needed, and much used after we arrived on the islands.